FORT WORTH — Weather did what about four hours of negotiations failed to do Monday afternoon: Persuade a suicidal naked man to come down from a billboard on West Seventh Street.
When the incident began about 11 a.m., the weather was warm and breezy. By the time the man, whom they called James, gracefully swung to the ground about 3:30 p.m., the sky was dark and rain was starting to fall.
Police blocked off about a half-mile of the major east-west artery, causing traffic tie-ups into downtown and the Cultural District. Westbound traffic was diverted at the Trinity River bridge; eastbound traffic before the BNSF railroad tracks.
Officer Sharron Neal, a police spokeswoman, said the first 911 call came from a roommate who said the man, whom she said is in his mid-20s, was distraught about losing his job and was suicidal.
While officers were headed to that call, other calls came in about a man standing naked on a billboard, Neal said.
Police found the man atop the four-story-tall billboard. He yelled frequently at police below and paced back and forth, sometimes waving his arms, other times crawling on all fours. He also stood straight with arms out like a high diver about to plunge. Once, he sprawled backward with his legs dangling over the side.
During the negotiations, he asked for friends, co-workers and relatives, and many had gathered before the incident ended, Neal said.
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